Super Sniffers: The Genetics of Canine Scent
D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D.
If you visit the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow, you won’t see the typical German Shepherd Dogs, Belgian Malinois, Beagles and Labrador Retrievers sniffing for contraband. Instead, you’ll see dogs that look like small huskies with thick, gray coats, curled tails and an unequaled determination to sniff out trouble.
Called Sulimov Dogs after their creator, Klim Sulimov, they’re the result of a project that began in 1975 as a quest for a better bomb-detection dog. Rather than depend on existing breeds, Sulimov and colleagues at Russia’s DS Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection set out to create a new super-sniffer from scratch.
They bypassed the obvious choices (Bloodhounds, Beagles and the like) and went to a more primal source: the wild jackal. Anecdotal evidence suggests that jackals are better than wolves or dogs at ferreting out hidden scents. Because jackals aren’t known for their trainability, Sulimov crossed them with more-easily trained, reindeer-herding Russian huskies. Huskies and other northern breeds, Sulimov contended, were ideal for the cross because they developed a superior sense of smell that allows them to detect odors in low temperatures.
Give us your opinion on Breeder's Notebook
Login to get points for commenting or write your comment below
Get New Captcha